Monday, March 8, 2010

Why do Senior Citizens Become Religious after Retirement?

My father, who died at the age of 84, never stepped into the Puja room
during his school days. He was a teacher in a reputed school. After
retirement, he took to Pujas and rituals and became religious. I have
seen many senior citizens visiting temples regularly, performing Pujas
in the mornings. They also start going to discourses on Gita, Puranas,
Ithihasas and the like. They actively take part in Bajans, Satsanghs,
Homa etc. Some will accept some God Man as their Guru and follow his
preaching and guidance faithfully. Greater interest in astrology or
future prediction is not uncommon. But all these activities have come
about in large number of senior citizens after retirement. If we
question why this is so, we get some good insights.

Reasons: Some persons feel a sense of guilt of having wasted their
entire life in pursuit of material needs, forgetting God altogether.
To compensate and make amends, they turn to religiosity. Most also
feel free to pursue what they like and they genuinely did not have
time for it earlier. They are 'floating' in time in many senses. [Time
is considered as a river and the man is floating along without any
effort; Retirees become light of mind as many burdens are absent and
hence they float; Floating in money connotes having aplenty – similar
is the case of older persons – they have lot of time for
everything].Engaging in Pujas & rituals is one way of spending time
usefully and satisfyingly.

Many senior citizens have a nagging fear of the future: money, health,
responsibilities like marrying off a daughter, death etc. They
consider praying to God may help. Peer pressure coming from
co-retirees who advise and urge that turning to God is the best
solution. Moreover the society appreciates this change and the senior
is happy about this.

Pros and Cons: Turning to Religion has many dividends. They get to
know scriptures and texts better. They are in a better position to
converse, teach youngsters or get company of friends in this sector.
As company of friends ensues, loneliness, a curse of old age, may be
avoided. Any activity that engages the mind and body regularly is Ok
including Puja performance. Some kind of pseudo peace descends upon
the individual "I am doing the right thing" kind of satisfaction. They
are proud about it. Self worth increases. Good bonding among followers
of the same group (Bajan, Guru) happens and really good social service
activities like volunteering for common causes could happen.

However, getting involved in such activities more than that is
warranted might have its own unpleasant consequences. Highly religious
persons become bigoted, lose a sense of balance and become sensitive
to others hurting them easily. They might also develop some
I-am-holier-than-Thou attitude and this is unhealthy. Trusting in God
men fully and losing oneself is fraught with the danger of getting
shattered when a God man is exposed as a fraud.

Spirituality, as against religiosity, is better. If a person can move
towards this greater thirst for self realization, after having been
rigorously religious for a few years, that would be laudable.


  1. Yes, this is a genuine trend among senior citizens... One more reason why old people turn to religion and spirituality, may be because they have nothing to do the entire day. So, they while away their time in reading scriptures.. Very innovative post! :)

  2. Thanks, Dave. I wonder how such a young person (but very mature as I see from your blog posts)
    -hardly sixteen can show interest in elders affairs. Nice. Happy. Keep it up.

  3. For my take on the subject, I request to please visit my blog at the following link-

  4. I have noticed this trend in the West also. As you pointed out having the time to do it is one of the reasons. I am a skeptic when it comes to religion and hopefully I will stay that way :)

  5. You are right about differentiating between spirituality and religiosity. Having been busy all one's life to do anything more than take care of the family, one certainly finds the time to get into spiritual pursuits only in old age. Good insight!